311 (band)

311 (band)
Origin Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Genres Alternative rock, reggae rock, rap rock, funk rock, hard rock, ska punk
Years active 1988–present
Labels 311, ATO, Volcano Entertainment, Capricorn, What Have You
Associated acts Sublime with Rome, The Dirty Heads, Slightly Stoopid
Website www.311.com
Nick Hexum
S.A. Martinez
Tim Mahoney
Chad Sexton
Past members
Jim Watson

311 (pronounced "three-eleven") is an American rock band from Omaha, Nebraska. The band was formed in 1988 by vocalist/rhythm guitarist Nick Hexum, lead guitarist Jim Watson (who would later be replaced by Tim Mahoney), bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills and drummer Chad Sexton. In 1992, Doug "SA" Martinez joined to sing and provide turntables for 311's later albums, rounding out the current line-up.

To date, 311 has released ten studio albums, one live album, four compilation albums, four EPs and four DVDs. After a series of independent releases, 311 was signed to Capricorn Records in 1992 and released the albums Music (1993) and Grassroots (1994) to moderate success. They achieved greater success with their 1995 triple platinum[1] self-titled album, which reached #12 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the singles "Down" and "All Mixed Up", the former of which topped the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks in 1996.[2] The band's next three albums, Transistor (1997), Soundsystem (1999) and From Chaos (2001), did not achieve the massive success of the self-titled album, though they were still successful, with the first going platinum and the last two going gold.[1] Their 2004 compilation album Greatest Hits '93–'03 was also certified gold. The band's most recent studio album is 2011's Universal Pulse. As of 2011, 311 has sold over 8.5 million records worldwide.[3]



Early recordings (1989–1992)

311's first independent release was the Downstairs EP, which was recorded in 1989 in Nick Hexum's basement. Unlike many of their releases, it had no cover art.[4] A copy of this EP can easily be found circulating in bootleg circles and tape trading communities. The Downstairs EP suffers from guitar so scratchy that the instrument produced an unintended grinding "ringing" sound so high-pitched that it distorted the sound of the tape upon recording; the sound is so abrasive and scratchy that it has caused listeners of the EP to the suffer tinnitus.[citation needed] On this EP, "Right Now" is one of the songs most afflicted with the grinding, ringing guitar noise. Owners of original copies of the EP (not the bootleg version) report that the grinding, ringing guitar noise is in fact present on the original source material.[5]

In 1991, 311 released their second independent release, Unity, recorded at Rainbow Recording Studios, Omaha, which was released with far greater numbers than their first release Dammit!, which was also recorded in 1989 and released in the following year. While Dammit! only printed 300 cassettes, Unity had 1000 CDs and 500 cassettes printed and was distributed through consignment and also sold at shows.[6] The band began to headline shows in local clubs, such as The Ranch Bowl and Sokol Auditorium, and became a local success.

In 1992, S.A. Martinez, who had been making various appearances with 311 over the past years as a vocalist, was officially asked to join the band. 311 recorded a six-track demo, called Hydroponic, and moved to Los Angeles. Within their first few months, 311 was signed to Capricorn Records.

311 considers their first show to be held on June 10, 1990, opening for Fugazi in Omaha, NE, at the Sokol Auditorium.

Music and Grassroots (1993–1994)

After taking their name from the police code for indecent exposure in Omaha NE (after the original guitarist for the band was arrested for streaking), their first major record, Music was released in 1993. The single "Do You Right" received airplay on modern rock stations and reached #27 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. However, the album failed to chart at the time.

Financing their own tour, the band drove around in an old RV borrowed from Chad's father, and towed a Volkswagen bus which held their equipment. After tackling a steep incline while en route to an Omaha show, the RV caught fire. The only door out of the vehicle was surrounded by flames so the band jumped through the fire. All of their equipment and possessions were lost, though no one was seriously injured. The band continued their tour, using borrowed equipment. The incident is referenced in various songs, including "Omaha Stylee", with the lyrics:

When one girl dreamt a fire in hers and then it happened
To me and my family my bro's and I were driving"
The RV bleeding flames us leaping through fire surviving
Zoned with no home there was fire all on it
Umm let me have my life I want it

The following year, they released their second studio album, Grassroots. Although none of the singles charted, the album reached #8 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart and #193 on the Billboard 200, and tracks from Grassroots began popping up on college charts nationwide. It was during this time that 311's loyal fan base began to take on the form it remains in today.

Mainstream breakthrough (1995–2001)

In 1995, 311 released what was to be their biggest selling CD, the self-titled 311 (also known as The Blue Album). Produced by Ron St. Germain, the album was recorded live in contrast to their previous two albums in which all instruments were recorded separately. The first single "Don't Stay Home" was a modest success, reaching #29 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. But the follow-up single "Down", which was released 14 months after the album, received heavy airplay on mainstream radio and the accompanying music video was on MTV's rotation. The song hit #1 on the Modern Rock chart. The band made their network television debut on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on August 23. The third single, "All Mixed Up", enjoyed almost identical success, reaching #4 on the Modern Rock chart. These singles propelled the album to platinum status in 1996. The album eventually went triple-platinum. They also appeared on Late Show with David Letterman playing "Down".

In the following years, 311 continued touring and on August 5, 1997 they released Transistor which debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200, their highest position on that chart. While featuring popular tracks like "Beautiful Disaster", "Transistor", and "Prisoner," the album also dealt with more weighty subject matter such as world affairs ("Borders"), spirituality ("Inner Light Spectrum"), and mysticism ("The Continuous Life"). Although not garnering as much fame as some of 311's previous output, the album quickly went platinum.

In 1998, 311 released Live, a live album from a 1997 performance in New Orleans, Louisiana. 311 also released Omaha Sessions, a compilation album from their early independent releases.

In 1999, 311 released their fifth major album, Soundsystem. "Come Original" was the album's first single and had success on radio and MTV. The song reached #6 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. The video was heavily requested on MTV's TRL, and was #60 on TRL's Top 99 of '99. The second single, "Flowing", had American Pie's Eddie Kaye Thomas featured in the music video.

The success of these albums helped the band's first two major albums, Music and Grassroots, reach certified gold status.

Starting in 2000 the band began celebrating "their holiday" of 311 Day, held on March 11 (3/11). Every other year the band and thousands of their most loyal fans gather to New Orleans and celebrate with an extended concert put on by 311. In 2000 they played 47 songs and in 2002 59 songs were played. In 2004 311 played 68 songs in 5 hours, and later that year a DVD was released of 311 Day 2004, containing 64 of the 68 songs. 311 Day in 2006 was held at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee. The band played 65 songs, the setlist was cut short from 69, because of a strict curfew of midnight. The band recorded the entire show in high definition. A 2 hour edit of the show aired on HDTV on December 10. 311 Day in 2008 was held in the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. They played 63 songs total, over three separated sets, to a sold out crowd of 14,000 fans, who represented all 50 states and 13 countries. In 2010, 311 Day took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. All 60 songs, 32 of which were different from 311 Day in 2008,[7] were broadcast live on the web in a video on demand format described as a "professional multi-camera HD production."[8]

In 1995, the band purchased a recording studio in North Hollywood, California called The Hive. The band has recorded every album at The Hive since 2000, beginning with the sessions for From Chaos, 311's sixth major record release.

From Chaos was released in late 2001 and debuted at #10 on the Billboard 200. Its first single, "You Wouldn't Believe" featured basketball star Shaquille O'Neal in the video and had a solid run of success on MTV. The album is also known for its third single, "Amber", an ethereal love song with surf guitar and the group's signature reggae-flavored sound.

Evolver and Don't Tread on Me (2002–2006)

Their seventh major release, Evolver (Produced By Ron Saint Germain), came in 2003 and marked a return to the straightforward guitar-heavy sound that the band had become known for. Evolver debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200, and the single "Creatures (For A While)" reached #3 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart.

In 2004, 311 covered The Cure's "Love Song" which became a #1 hit on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. It also reached #59 on the Hot 100, their first single to reach that chart. It was featured on the soundtrack for the motion picture 50 First Dates and then a few months later on their own Greatest Hits '93-'03. The compilation debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold. The album also featured two new songs. "How Do You Feel?" and "First Straw". Of these new tracks, "First Straw", was released as a single and reached #14 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

On August 16, 2005, 311 released their eighth studio album, titled Don't Tread on Me. "Don't Tread On Me", the first single, reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and #1 at R&R. The next two singles, "Speak Easy" and "Frolic Room", did not receive the same success as the first, neither of which made it past #20 on the Modern Rock Charts.

Neither of their newest studio albums, excluding Greatest Hits, have received an RIAA certification yet.

On July 20, 2006, 311 kicked off their Summer Unity Tour, playing 37 shows in 27 states and featuring opening bands Pepper and the legendary Wailers. Though their album sales have declined in recent years, the band continued to attract record crowds to their shows. Over 18,500 people came to see the band in Atlanta, their largest audience ever in the city. Other cities with high turnouts included New Jersey (17,210 people), Boston (15,276), Washington DC (13,812), Omaha (13,467), Kansas City (11,156), and Colorado (10,000).

After completion of the tour, 311 announced they would be taking a break, their first official one in over eight years.

Unity tours, Uplifter and Universal Pulse (2007-present)

In January 2007, 311 stepped back into their Hive Studios with Nick's younger brother Zack Hexum. They recorded a cover of Toots & the Maytals song "Reggae Got Soul" for the soundtrack from the film Surf's Up, which was released on June 5, 2007. 311 is also one of the selected group of bands that have been able to successfully tour "off-cycle", headlining amphitheaters each summer.

Their Summer Unity Tour in 2007 included supporting acts Matisyahu and The English Beat. In 2008, they featured opening acts Snoop Dogg and Fiction Plane.

In 2009, they had another Summer Unity Tour which featured opening acts Ziggy Marley and The Expendables[9] while in 2010, supporting act The Offspring and opening act Pepper were featured.[10] In 2011, Sublime With Rome and DJ Soulman & DJ Trichrome will be opening on the Unity Tour.[11]

Uplifter, 311's ninth studio album, was released on June 2, 2009. The album, produced at 311's Hive Recording Studios in Los Angeles by Bob Rock, debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200, the band's highest chart position in the U.S. to date.[12] The band followed up the release of the album with tours in Summer and Fall 2009. They have completed their Spring 2010 tour, which included 311 Day 2010, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. A Summer tour with The Offspring began in June 2010. 311 also held a 2010 fall tour.

In early 2011, 311 finished recording their tenth studio album called Universal Pulse at the Hive in Los Angeles, with producer Bob Rock. The album was released July 19, 2011. The album's first single, "Sunset in July" was released on June 3, 2011.[13] Universal Pulse is their shortest album yet, only having 8 songs.

311 hosted their first ever "Pow Wow" Festival from August 4 to August 6 at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL. Along with 311, it featured DJ Trichome, Murs, SOJA, Deftones, DJ Soulman, The Movement, Full Service, Streetlight Manifesto, The Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, Shinobi Ninja, Ballyhoo!, The Supervillains, Ozomatli, G. Love & Special Sauce, and comedians Doug Benson and Graham Elwood.

Musical style

Various writers and critics define 311 by a number of genres. They are generally known as an alternative rock band, but they are also classified as rap rock, rap metal, funk rock, funk metal, ska punk, reggae and jazz fusion.[14][15][16]


Former members

  • Jim "Jimi" Watson – guitar (1988–1991)

Guest musicians

  • Ward Bones – guest keyboards on the version of "Fuck the Bullshit" on Dammit!
  • Black Chiney – back-up vocals on "Creatures (For Awhile)" and vocals on "Are You Ready" stage intro
  • Daddy Freddy – back-up vocals on "Nix Hex"
  • Robert Greenridge – steel drums on the song "Speak Easy"
  • Adam Merrin – piano on "Too Much Too Fast"
  • Zack Hexum – Nick's younger brother, plays saxophone in "Outside" a 311 B-side. He also plays the horns on 311's cover of the Toots & the Maytals song "Reggae Got Soul", recorded for the Surf's Up movie soundtrack.
  • Marcus Watkins – guest guitar on the version of "Fat Chance" on Dammit!
  • Eric "Bobo" Correa – guest percussionist on "Running", "Strangers" and "Stealing Happy Hours" on Transistor
  • Shaquille O'Neal – On Enlarged to Show Detail 2, Shaq made an appearance with 311 at the 2001 KROQ Weenie Roast, performing his song entitled "Psycho".



  1. ^ a b "RIAA certifications". http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?table=SEARCH_RESULTS&artist=311&format=ALBUM&go=Search&perPage=50. Retrieved 2011-04-27. 
  2. ^ "311 Album & Songs Chart History: Alternative Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. http://www.billboard.com/#/artist/311/chart-history/29724?f=377&g=Singles. Retrieved 2011-04-27. 
  3. ^ "Red Light Management". redlightmanagement.com. http://www.redlightmanagement.com/artist.php?sect=artist&num=192. Retrieved 2011-04-27. 
  4. ^ "MusicMoz – Bands and Artists: 3: 311: Discography". Musicmoz.org. http://musicmoz.org/Bands_and_Artists/3/311/Discography/Singles/Downstairs_EP/. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  5. ^ "311 fans' Journal". Community.livejournal.com. http://community.livejournal.com/the_fans_hive. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  6. ^ "311 Press Pack". 311.com. http://www.311.com/presspack2009. Retrieved 2011-09-11. 
  7. ^ "311 Day 2010". Setlist.com. 2010-03-11. http://setlist.com/311/311Day/2010.html. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Ticketnews.com" December 16, 2009
  10. ^ "Official website of 311". 311music.com. http://www.311music.com/. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  11. ^ "311 – 7.8.11 – Capitol Federal Park at Sandstone". 965thebuzz.com. 2009-01-06. http://www.965thebuzz.com/pages/9444053.php. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  12. ^ Caulfield, Keith (June 10, 2009). "Dave Matthews' 'Big' Debuts At No. 1 On Billboard 200". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/dave-matthews-big-debuts-at-no-1-on-billboard-1003981948.story. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  13. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: 311 Debut Funky New Single". SPIN.com. 2011-06-03. http://www.spin.com/articles/exclusive-311-debut-funky-new-single. Retrieved 2011-09-11. 
  14. ^ "311 Biography". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p36903/biography. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  15. ^ "311 on Rhapsody". http://mp3.rhapsody.com/311. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  16. ^ "311 Makes It Out of the Grass and Into the Green". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/311/articles/story/5927641/311_makes_it_out_of_the_grass_and_into_the_nobrgreennobr. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 

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